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In recent years, the price of medication have risen steadily. However, in 2011 the trend has reversed. Statutory health insurance has paid out less on drugs than in 2010: 4% less which was equivalent to EUR 1.2 billion.  

On average, Germans in the West spent less on medicines than those in the East. An explanation for this discrepancy is that there is an assumed higher amount of elderly in the former East republic, increasing the likelihood of multiple diseases. Thus, health insurance providers in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern last year spent an average of EUR 494 on treatment per patient. In Bayern, however, this was only EUR 342, around one third less. The state of Berlin, for example, stands out for its high AIDS costs. The per-capita expenditure for the treatment of HIV in most cases in Germany was between three and eight Euros, whereas in Berlin it was EUR 51.

Commentary: It seems we can see changes in the environment for pharmaceuticals taking effect. What is responsible for the reduced expenditure on drugs by health insurance companies is the lower pricing of these drugs. Two thirds of this reduction was due to the increase in legally prescribed rebates. The other third was probably down to manufacturers‘ own discounts and discount contracts.

Whilst this economic development is welcome, it is also a breeding ground for the ongoing dispute between health insurers and pharmaceutical stakeholders over the costs. The Verband Forschender Arzneimittelhersteller (VFA) released a statement, saying that politicians have been heavily intervening in drug prices due to competitive pressures and the threat it poses to patient care. VFA leader Birgit Fischer warned: „The limit as to when drug prices for manufacturers are still economical to conduct research on other much needed medicines has been reached“.

Statutory health organisation Gesetzlichen Krankenversicherung (GKV) naturally points to its rise in spending on drugs in the current year (up 3.5% already in the first half of 2012). „Those who speak about the cost should not emphasize the past year, but the present“, stated  the association’s spokesmanVerbandssprecher Florian Lanz.

All quotes translated by Kon.Med

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